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Don’t Ask Me to Strip (a Reflection on an Issue)

June 12, 2015

I originally wrote this for a part of my arts leadership minor. You can find the original post as well as reflections on my current internship at: planningandtyping.wordpress.com

Reading an article from Arts Journal (originally from The Observer UK) about the sexual harassment that actresses and actors continue to face in the entertainment industry, I found myself, unfortunately, not at all surprised. In this day and age, sexual harassment seems almost commonplace. Is this disturbing? Absolutely. Will it change anytime soon? Maybe, if we work really, really hard.

To be honest, I’ve not experienced “casting couch” harassment in my own life, but I know plenty of women who have–and I’m certain that if I continue auditioning for long enough, I too will suffer the same fate. It’s an upsetting reality that I, not just as a woman but also as an actress, must face. In my future, I plan on attending many, many auditions and knowing that even one of those could be a fake ploy to get me to take my clothes off is insulting. But what am I supposed to do about it?

Thankfully (if I can even say that), I’m not in this boat alone. I’m one of hundreds of thousands of young, decently attractive actresses trying to make it. I’m one in a million which, while frustrating, is also comforting. It means that I have allies. I have other people who know what it’s like to be fearful of walking down a dark street alone, to be terrified when approached by a stranger, and now, to hold our breath when walking into a cold reading. We’re not alone.

So to go back to my original question, what am I going to do about this issue, the answer is I don’t know yet. Disappointing, I know, but there’s no one-time fix for this. Sexual harassment in auditions is embedded in the industry. It’s a problem that has evolved as quickly as the market itself. It’s not something that I, or anyone else, could tackle alone. The reality is that regardless of the policies that could be in place or the efforts of people like myself, there will most likely always be someone wanting to exploit actors and actresses for their own benefit. That’s the world we live in, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work to decrease the risk.

I don’t want to be another sexual harassment statistic, and I don’t want anyone else to be either. I don’t want to be counting my blessings when I come out of an audition unscathed. So make a fuss, pitch a fit, scream, shout, and holler–let’s make a big deal, because this is!

(Link to original article here)

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